Orange Alert

Summer Linguistics Boot Camp Immerses Students in African Luyia Languages

During this new summer course, students will review transcripts of the African Luyia languages

April 18, 2017, by Kathleen Haley

Christopher Green
Christopher Green

Students interested in learning more about the field of linguistics—and delving deep into a set of African languages—are encouraged to enroll in a new summer course, Linguistics Boot Camp.

Under the direction of Assistant Professor Christopher Green, students will review transcripts of the African Luyia languages—in both the language and in English—and work on creating a comprehensive grammatical sketch of the language.

Green, who is in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences, studies the Wanga language of the Luyia set of languages, based in Kenya. He is in the third year of a four-year National Science Foundation (NSF) collaborative grant studying four specific dialects of the Luyia languages to create documentation on the properties of the languages. (See related research story.)

The idea for the Linguistics Boot Camp developed after Green heard about the Innovative Program Development Fund through University College, which provides funding support for new courses.

Green, who is a co-principal investigator on the NSF grant, and his co-principal investigators—Michael Marlo, associate professor of English at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Michael Diercks, associate professor at Pomona College—have a year and a half left on the NSF grant and continue to work on processing data from their specific focus languages. For the course, they will prepare narratives for students to work on, leading them towards a better understanding of research into linguistics.

“We will have students work with us to process through the data that has already been collected, translated and transcribed,” Green says. “We will use this material from narratives to have students get a deep dive in grammatical structure.”

Students will have a transcript between the language and English and pursue such understanding as to how to form nouns with adjectives, how adverbs work and how to form clauses, among other areas.

“The idea is for students to learn something from the grammar and how to present and talk about what they’re finding and the challenges they come across. And this gives them an opportunity to delve into a research topic,” Green says.

The course will be split between the classroom and online work, in coordination with the collaborators’ universities.

“Morning sessions will be spent working through text and grammatical components, followed by one-on-one time with faculty and students to dig deep into the topics,” Green says.

Students will then write up their topic and findings on the language. “It’s a nice way for students to get immersed in linguistic research. It’s working with real data, not just pre-cooked data sets,” Green says.

Students do not have to be a linguistics major to enroll; this may also appeal to students in anthropology or communication sciences. “It could set the stage for a bachelor’s thesis or honors project,” Green says. “The possibilities are endless.”

For more information about the course, contact Green at

Two additional courses in linguistics and language teaching are also available this summer: Introductory Linguistic Analysis (taught in Summer 1) and Introduction to Methods of ELT/FLT (taught in Summer 2)


Christopher Green Associate Professor, Linguistics

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Robert M Enslin